Mini Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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I finished a Conjuring of Light a few days ago and I decided that, instead of reviewing only the third book in this trilogy I would give my overall thoughts on the series!

This series is very hyped up but, in case you never a heard of it before, here’s a little synopsis of the first book. A Darker Shade of Magic follows Kell, one of the last Antari, magicians capable of traveling between parallel universes, more particularly between different Londons. Each London has unique characteristics:  White London is savage, ruled by two insane rulers, Grey London is magic-less unlike Red London where magic is everywhere and Black London is now destroyed and inaccessible.

Kell is from Red London and, being the only Antari of his universe, he is the only link between his London and the other ones and he has to carry messages between the different Londons’ rulers . The only rule he has to follow during his travels is that he can’t bring relics from an universe to an other one because it can disturb the balance between worlds, but, of course, rules are meant to be broken. Kell can have evrything he wants, but what is better than forbidden things? So he decided to smuggle things from one London to another… until he smuggles something that might end up destroying his world, something from Black London. What he doesn’t know yet is that the only person capable of stopping this is Delilah Bard, a ruthless young thief who tried to rob him in Grey London.

In my opinion, this series is not really a groundbreacking trilogy, it’s fun and I can see why a lot of people love this, I probably would have if I had read this five or six years ago but still. I mean, it definitely has some cool elements, you can except a lot of battles, magic tournaments and pirates: in its ideas this series has a lot of potential but, for me at least, it never really managed to deliver on its promises.

First and foremost, the books are all way too long for what they are trying to do, especially the second book A Gathering of Shadows, which suffered from an extreme case of “second book syndrome”, its intrigue did not stand on its own at all and it ended with a cheap cliffhanger. The third book, A Conjuring of Light was also too long, but, its lenght wasn’t as useless: a couple of side stories felt a bit unnecessary but it wasn’t painful to read either and the ending was satisfying. However, I think this story would have been told better as a duology and not a trilogy.

The characters were interesting enough even if Lila managed to get on my nerves quite a bit, it was obvious that Schwab was in love with this character but, I personally wasn’t. She was too rude, too stubborn and too frustating for me. In the last book, I liked her a bit more but I still found her to be a cliché YA fantasy heroine. However, I liked Rhys and Kell quite a bit and I really loved Alucard and Holland who were for me the most interesting characters out of the bunch. So even if this trilogy wasn’t memorable, it was fun and it definitely had good elements: the worldbuilding is cool, the characters are nice and the plot was pretty decent. It was a bit repetitive for my liking, but still, it was still enjoyable.

Overall, I can see why people would like this series even if I don’t think it is worth the hype, I am pretty sure I will forget this story pretty quickly but still, I’m glad I finished it.

Individual ratings


A Darker Shade of Magic:  ★★★

A Gathering of Shadows:  ★★ 1/2

A Conjuring of Light:  ★★★ 1/2


Overall Rating





Have you read this trilogy? Did you like it?



14 thoughts on “Mini Series Review: Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

  1. I was overall rather lukewarm about this series as well. It’s entertaining, but I just never got the hype I guess. OMG Lila really was terrible, for some reason Schwab seems to have this thing for making her female characters obnoxious and rude like that, it drives me crazy.

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  2. I thoroughly enjoyed these as easy reads on the fluff end of the spectrum. I have a soft spot for games/competition-based stories, so book 2 was probably my favourite (I also liked the way it developed Rhy, and I loved Alucard) – whereas book 3 frustrated me in the end. Awfully long –
    great build-up, but in the end it was all a bit too predictable and too easy in terms of who lived, who died, who vanquished. On the other hand, perhaps because I read very little YA, I was able to enjoy Lila Bard for being obnoxiously over-confident and self-reliant, which are tropes I see too little of (as they’re rarer outside YA – I grew up reading stories where only boys could exhibit these traits, which frustrated me immensely).

    I’d certainly reread them as a beach read and I will probably explore the new series when it comes out.

    (although: in terms of books featuring obnoxiously over-confident heroines and resolutions that are all a bit easy I think the equally fluffy Lady Trent books are more interesting in the end. I’ve got grumpy about epic THE WORLD WILL END IF THEY FAIL plots in my old age)

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    1. I have nothing against magic tournaments, on the contrary, it’s just that, for me at least, this particular one in book 2 felt useless, it did not move the story forward and I didn’t really understand it’s point, the idea was cool but not in this story.
      I don’t think I will be cecking the nex series out except if I really heard fantastic things about it from people I trust, this trilogy was a fun popcorn read but I have a ton of other books that I really want to read over this new series.
      I really need to check out the Lady Trent books, I have the first book somewhere and I have heard great things about this series! 🙂

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  3. This series was EXTREMELY over hyped. I was mildly curious when the word began spreading, but I am now no longer interested. My wife read them and would probably agree with this post, she wasn’t impressed either. I think her new book deal is an over exaggeration of an author advance. Cut it back a bit, provide earlier royalties or a higher royalty rate and save the difference on the advance for a new author trying to break on or pay a little more for a mid-list or low-list author. That way not all of the marketing and promotion go towards the same few authors every time.

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